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Available 有空,沒事,有錢,可以用,有賣,空缺 in Chinese

Sometimes English words seem vague to native Chinese speakers.

Most of you have learned that there is no direct translation for “yes” and “no” in Chinese. Answers to questions are given by using the verbs involved in the question. The word “available” is similar. There is no Chinese equivalent. In fact, my Chinese tutor told me it was challenging for her to understand the English word “available,” because it seems rather vague and is used in ways that don’t seem connected from a Chinese viewpoint.

Here are some of the English ways “available” is used, followed by what makes sense in Chinese (MW always means ‘measure word’):

 

Are you available? Do you have time?

 

When someone asks,

 

妳在忙嗎?

(妳)(在)(忙)(嗎)

(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄗㄞˋ)(ㄇㄤˊ)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(nǐ)(zài)(máng)(ma.)

(you)(indicates action in progress)(busy)(question particle)

Are you busy right now?

 

he or she may get another question in reply:

 

有事嗎?

(有)(事)(嗎)

(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄕˋ)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(yǒu)(shì)(ma.)

(to have)(affair, matter, item, work)(question particle)

Do you have something going on? or What’s up?

 

Another way to ask if you “have time” is:

 

你有空嗎?

(你)(有)(空)(嗎)

(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄎㄨㄥˋ)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(nǐ)(yǒu)(kòng)(ma.)

(you)(to have)(empty, space, leisure)(question particle)

Do you have time?

 

The person can answer either negatively or positively. These first two answers mean the person “is not available.”

 

現在我有事,不能跟你去看電影噢!

(現在)(我)(有)(事),(不)(能)(跟)(你)(去)(看)(電影)(噢)

(ㄒㄧㄢˋ ㄗㄞˋ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄕˋ), (ㄅㄨˋ)(ㄋㄥˊ)(ㄍㄣ)(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄑㄩˋ)(ㄎㄢˋ)(ㄉㄧㄢˋ ㄧㄥˇ)(ㄡ)

(xiàn zài)(wǒ)(yǒu)(shì), (bù)(kě néng)(gēn)(nǐ)(qù)(kàn)(diàn yǐng)(ō)

(now)(I)(to have)(affair, matter, item, work), (not)(able)(with)(you)(to go)(to see)(movie)(conversational sound)

I have something I have to do, I can’t go with you to see a movie!

 

現在我沒空 ,得幫我的老公。

(現在)(我)(沒)(空)❶ ,(得)(幫)(我的)(老公)

(ㄒㄧㄢˋ ㄗㄞˋ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄇㄟˊ)(ㄎㄨㄥˋ), (ㄉㄟˇ)(ㄅㄤ)(ㄨㄛˇ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄌㄠˇ ㄍㄨㄥ)

(xiàn zài)(wǒ)(méi)(kòng), (děi)(bāng)(wǒ de.)(lǎo gōng)

(now)(I)(have not/not)(leisure, vacancy), (must)(help)(my)(husband)

I don’t have time right now, I must help my husband.

 

Here are some other reasons someone might be busy:

 

現在我有事,我要去家庭感恩節的宴會。

(現在)(我)(有)(事),(我)(要)(去)(家庭)(感恩節)(的)(宴會)

(ㄒㄧㄢˋ ㄗㄞˋ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄕˋ), (ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄧㄠˋ)(ㄑㄩˋ)(ㄐㄧㄚ ㄊㄥˊ)(ㄍㄢˇ ㄣ ㄐㄧㄝˊ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄧㄢˋ ㄏㄨㄟˋ)

(xiàn zài)(wǒ)(yǒu)(shì), (wǒ)(yào)(qù)(jiā tíng)(gǎn ēn jié)(de.)(yàn huì)

(now)(I)(to have)(affair, matter, item, work), (I)(must)(to go)(family)(Thanksgiving)(adjective marker)(feast)

Right now I have to do something, I have Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

 

今天晚上我有事,我的孩子有生日的派對。

(今天)(晚上)❷(我)(有)(事),(我的)(孩子)(有)(生日)(的)(派對)

(ㄐㄧㄣ ㄊㄧㄢ)(ㄨㄢˇ ㄕㄤˋ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄕˋ), (ㄨㄛˇ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄏㄞˊ ㄗ˙)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄕㄥ ㄖˋ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄆㄞˋ ㄉㄨㄟˋ)

(jīn tiān)(wǎn shàng)(wǒ)(yǒu)(shì), (wǒ de.)(hái zi.)(yǒu)(shēng rì)(de.)(pài duì)

(today)(evening, night)(I)(to have)(affair, matter, item, work), (my)(child)(to have)(birthday)(adjective marker)(party)

Today, I have something going on already, my child is having a birthday party.

 

 

喔,不好意思,現在我沒空 ,我已經約好一個朋友跟她聚會!

(喔),(不好意思)❸,(現在)(我)(沒)(空) ,(我)(已經)(約好)(一個)(朋友)(跟)(她)(聚會)

(ㄡ), (ㄅㄨˋ ㄏㄠˇ ㄧˋ ㄙ˙), (ㄒㄧㄢˋ ㄗㄞˋ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄇㄟˊ)(ㄎㄨㄥˋ), (ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄧˇ ㄐㄧㄥ)(ㄩㄝ ㄏㄠˇ)(ㄧ ㄍㄜ˙)(ㄆㄥˊ ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄍㄣ)(ㄊㄚ)(ㄐㄩˋ ㄏㄨㄟˋ)

(ō), (bù hǎo yì si.), (xiàn zài)(wǒ)(méi)(kòng), (wǒ)(yǐ jīng)(yūe hǎo)(yī ge.)(péng yǒu)(gēn)(tā)(jù huì)

(oh), (I’m sorry), (now)(I)(not)(empty, space, leisure), (I)(already)(had appointment)(one)(friend)(with)(her)(party, gathering, get together)

Oh, I’m so sorry, I have an appointment to get together with a(nother) friend.

 

 

What if you are wondering if someone has money available to buy or do something?

 

你有錢嗎?

(你)(有)(錢)(嗎)

(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄑㄧㄢˊ)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(nǐ)(yǒu)(qián)(ma.)

(you)(to have)(money)(question particle)

Do you have money?

 

 

你有帶一些錢嗎?有的話我們可以買冰淇淋。

(你)(有)(帶)(一些)(錢)(嗎)?(有的話)❹(我們)(可以)(買)(冰淇淋)

(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄉㄞˋ)(ㄧˋ ㄒㄧㄝ)(ㄑㄧㄢˊ)(ㄇㄚ˙)? (ㄧㄡˇ ㄉㄜ˙ ㄏㄨㄚˋ)(ㄨㄛˇ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄎㄜˇ ㄧˇ)(ㄇㄞˇ)(ㄅㄧㄥ ㄑㄧˊ ㄌㄧㄣˊ)

(nǐ)(yǒu)(dài)(yì xiē)(qián)(ma.)? (yǒu de. huà)(wǒ men.)(kě yǐ)(mǎi)(bīng qí lín)

(you)(to have)(to bring)(some)(money)(question particle), (if so)(we)(can)(to buy)(ice cream)

Did you bring some money? If that’s the case, we can buy ice cream.

 

Or maybe your child is telling you:

 

我有一些錢買腳踏車噢!

(我)(有)(一些)(錢)(買)(腳踏車)(噢)

(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄧˋ ㄒㄧㄝ)(ㄑㄧㄢˊ)(ㄇㄞˇ)(ㄐㄧㄠˇ ㄊㄚˋ ㄔㄜ)(ㄡ)

(wǒ)(yǒu)(yì xiē)(qián)(mǎi)(jiǎo tà chē)(ō)

(I)(to have)(some)(money)(to buy)(bicycle)(conversational sound)

I have some money to buy a bicycle!

 

Maybe you want to borrow someone’s pencil –

 

你有一支筆我可以用嗎?

(你)(有)(一支)❺(筆)(我)(可以)(用)(嗎)

(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄧˋ ㄓ)(ㄅㄧˇ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄎㄜˇ ㄧˇ)(ㄩㄥˋ)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(nǐ)(yǒu)(yì zhī)(bǐ)(wǒ)(kě yǐ)(yòng)(ma.)

(you)(to have)(one + MW for pencil)(pencil/pen)(I)(can)(to use)(question particle)

Do you have a pencil I can use?

 

And the person might answer,

 

我有兩支筆,你可以用一支。

(我)(有)(兩支)(筆),(你)(可以)(用)(一支)❻

(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄌㄧㄤˇ ㄓ)(ㄅㄧˇ), (ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄎㄜˇ ㄧˇ)(ㄩㄥˋ)(ㄧˋ ㄓ)

(wǒ)(yǒu)(liǎng zhī)(bǐ), (nǐ)(kě yǐ)(yòng)(yì zhī)

(I)(to have)(two + MW for pen)(pencil/pen), (you)(can)(to use)(one + MW)

I have two pens, you may use one.

 

Possibly you are shopping and want to know if a store has a particular product available.

 

你這裡有賣郵票嗎?

(你)(這裡)(有)(賣)(郵票)(嗎)

(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄓㄜˋ ㄌㄧˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄇㄞˋ)(ㄧㄡˊ  ㄆㄧㄠˋ)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(nǐ)(zhè lǐ)(yǒu)(mài)(yóu piào)(ma.)

(you)(here)(to have)(to sell)(stamp)(question particle)

Do you sell stamps here?

 

你這裡有沒有賣雞蛋?

(你)(這裡)(有)(沒)(有)(賣)(雞蛋)❼

(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄓㄜˋ ㄌㄧˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄇㄟˊ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄇㄞˋ)(ㄐㄧ ㄉㄢˋ)

(nǐ)(zhè lǐ)(yǒu)(méi)(yǒu)(mài)(jī dàn)

(you)(here)(to have)(not)(to have)(to sell)(chicken egg)

Do you have chicken eggs for sale here?

 

You may need to ask if a size is available.

 

你有這頂帽子比較大的嗎?

(你)(有)(這頂)(帽子)(比較)(大的)(嗎)

(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄓㄜˋ ㄉㄧㄥˇ)(ㄇㄠˋ ㄗ˙)(ㄅㄧˇ ㄐㄧㄠˋ)(ㄉㄚˋ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(nǐ)(yǒu)(zhè dǐng)(mào zi.)(bǐ jiào)(dà de.)(ma.)

(you)(to have)(this + MW for hat)(hat)(comparatively)(bigger)(question particle)

Do you have this hat (available) in a bigger size?

 

You will be happy if they say:

 

這頂帽子我們有合你的尺碼!

(這頂)(帽子)(我們)(有)(合)(你的)(尺碼)

(ㄓㄜˋ ㄉㄧㄥˇ)(ㄇㄠˋ ㄗ˙)(ㄨㄛˇ ㄇㄣ˙)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄏㄜˊ)(ㄋㄧˇ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄔˇ ㄇㄚˇ)

(zhè dǐng)(mào zi.)(wǒ men.)(yǒu)(hé)(nǐ de.)(chǐ mǎ)

(this + MW)(hat)(we)(to have)(to fit)(your)(size)

Yes, we have this hat in your size!

 

Here is a long sentence that a sales person might say:

 

如果你要買那件洋裝的話,要快! 否則很快就沒有了。

(如果)(你)(要)(買)(那件)(洋裝)❽(的話),(要)(快)…..

(ㄖㄨˊ ㄍㄨㄛˇ)(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄧㄠˋ)(ㄇㄞˇ)(ㄋㄚˋ ㄐㄧㄢˋ)(ㄧㄤˊ ㄓㄨㄤ)(ㄉㄜ˙ ㄏㄨㄚˋ), (ㄧㄠˋ)(ㄎㄨㄞˋ)……

(rú guǒ)(nǐ)(yào)(mǎi)(nà jiàn)(yáng zhuāng)(de. huà), (yào)(kuài)……

(if)(you)(to want)(to buy)(that + MW for clothing)(dress)(if, indicates previous clause is conditional), (must)(fast, rapid, soon, to make haste)……

…..(否則)(很)(快)(就)(沒)(有)(了)

……(ㄈㄡˇ ㄗㄜˊ)(ㄏㄣˇ)(ㄎㄨㄞˋ)(ㄐㄧㄡˋ)(ㄇㄟˊ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄌㄜ˙)

……(fǒu zé)(hěn)(kuài)(jiù)(méi)(yǒu)(le.)

……(otherwise, if not, or else)(very)(fast)(right away)(not)(to have)(emphasize preceding statement)

If you want to buy that dress, you should do it quickly! Otherwise very soon we won’t have it. (We will have sold out.)

 

In English, we also ask if a room, space, or job is available.

 

還有沒有空的 更衣室??

(還)(有)(沒)(有)(空)(的)(更衣室)

(ㄏㄞˊ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄇㄟˊ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄎㄨㄥ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄍㄥ ㄧ ㄕˋ)

(hái)(yǒu)(méi)(yǒu)(kōng)(de.)(gēng yī shì)

(still)(to have)(not)(to have)(space)(empty, vacant)(adjective marker)(changing room)

Is there an empty/available changing room?

 

請問,這車位空的嗎?

(請問),(這)(車位)(空)(的)(嗎)

(ㄑㄧㄥˇ ㄨㄣˋ), (ㄓㄜˋ)(ㄔㄜ ㄨㄟˋ)(ㄎㄨㄥ)(ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(qǐng wèn), (zhè)(chē wèi)(kōng)(de.)(ma.)

(please to ask), (this)(car + position = parking space)(empty)(adjective marker)(question particle)

If I may ask, is this parking space available?

 

 

你們的公司有沒有職位空缺?

(你們的)(公司)(有)(沒)(有)(職位)(空缺)

(ㄋㄧˇ ㄇㄣ˙ ㄉㄜ˙)(ㄍㄨㄥ ㄙ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄇㄟˊ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄓˊ ㄨㄟˋ)(ㄎㄨㄥˋ ㄑㄩㄝ)

(nǐ men. de.)(gōng sī)(yǒu)(méi)(yǒu)(zhí wèi)(kòng quē)

(your)(company)(to have)(not)(to have)(office, post + post, rank, seat = job position)(empty, vacant)

Does your company have a position available?

 

廁所有人嗎?

(廁所)(有)(人)(嗎)

(ㄘㄜˋ ㄙㄨㄛˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄖㄣˊ)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(cè suǒ)(yǒu)(rén)(ma.)

(toilet + place = bathroom, lavatory, restroom)(to have)(person)(question particle)

Is there anyone in the restroom?

 

 

裡面有人嗎?

(裡面)(有)(人)(嗎)

(ㄌㄧˇ ㄇㄧㄢˋ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄖㄣˊ)(ㄇㄚ˙)

(lǐ miàn)(yǒu)(rén)(ma.)

(inside)(to have)(person)(question particle)

Is anyone in there?

 

So while at first it might seem tricky to an English speaker to translate “available,” the trick is to find a verb or description of the specific situation at hand.

 

你有沒有空跟我練習說中文呢?

(你)(有)(沒)(有)(空)(跟)(我)(練習)(說)(中文)(呢)

(ㄋㄧˇ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄇㄟˊ)(ㄧㄡˇ)(ㄎㄨㄥˋ)(ㄍㄣ)(ㄨㄛˇ)(ㄌㄧㄢˋ ㄒㄧˊ)(ㄕㄨㄛ)(ㄓㄨㄥ ㄨㄣˊ)(ㄋㄜ˙)

(nǐ)(yǒu)(méi)(yǒu)(kòng)(gēn)(wǒ)(liàn xí)(shuō)(zhōng wén)(ne.)

(you)(to have)(not)(to have)(time, leisure)(with)(me)(to practice)(to speak)(Chinese language)(emphasizes that it is a question)

Do you have time to practice speaking Chinese with me?

 


Vocabulary (I have only filled in the translations for words or combinations that were not used above. Maybe you could practice by writing or typing out the rest by yourself on the printable lesson pdf? I you have already signed up for my Fun Learning Chinese newsletter, you know how to access this on my private resource page!)

有事

有事情 (事情) ㄕˋ ㄑㄧㄥˊ shì qíng (affair, matter, thing)

有空

沒空

空的

宴會

派對

聚會

參加 ㄘㄢ ㄐㄧㄚ cān jiā (to participate, to take part, to join)

一些

有的話

一支筆

可以用

有賣

郵票

雞蛋

這頂帽子

適合 (適) ㄕˋ shì (to match, comfortable), so 適合 is another way to say “to fit”

尺碼

尺寸 (尺)(寸) ㄔˇ ㄘㄨㄣ chǐ cùn  (measure of about a foot + length of measure, inch, very little = size)

大小 (大小) ㄉㄚˋ ㄒㄧㄠˇ dà xiǎo (big + small = size, dimension)

沒事 (沒)(事)ㄇㄟˊ ㄕˋ méi shì (not + affair), so nothing going on to interfere! available

沒有事情


Notes:

❶ You will find 空 used with two different tones in these questions. One 空 is first tone and the other 空 is fourth tone. They have similar meanings, but my tutor says the fourth tone version is used more of time, while the first tone version implies vacancy of 3-dimensional space. A job position doesn’t fit neatly into either category, but has a specific character attached to it to specify meaning.

❷ Without explaining a certain time that you are busy, it sounds like you don’t ever plan on being available.

❸ This is one of those words that doesn’t seem to make sense from the characters. It helps me to think of it as “oh, no, I’m sorry, that’s not good!”

❹ 有的話 or just 的話 is used frequently to indicate that if a condition is met then something else can follow.

❺ I was reminded that measure word, sometimes also called a classifier, always needs to have a numerical value in front of it, even if it is just one.

❻ However, once a noun has been previously attached to a classifier, it can be implied by just using the classified again with a number.

❼ It is apparently important in Chinese to specify “chicken” eggs.

❽ Although there is currently not much significant difference in clothing and fashion world wide at this point in time, when this word was coined, the western style of a women’s dress was obviously not Chinese. The terminology has stuck, much like French fries are not sometime necessarily associated with French culture.

 

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